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INBOX: Road to the Memorial Cup

by Bob Stauffer / Edmonton Oilers
Oilers radio colour analyst Bob Stauffer answers questions submitted by fans about the team.
  1. Bob, do you see Peter Chiarelli moving one of the Oilers young guns right away to upgrade in defence or goal? -- Jack in Hinton, AB

I can’t speak for the Oilers new President of Hockey Operations and General Manager, but my guess is that Chiarelli will want to assess what he has with the likes of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Nail Yakupov and Leon Draisaitl up front and Darnell Nurse, Oscar Klefbom, and Justin Schultz on the back-end.
 
With the Oilers winning the lottery we know the pick will be one of Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel, both centres, and it will be hard to ignore McDavid’s sheer brilliance during the OHL playoffs (19-23-42 in 15 games), so the Oilers will have strength down the middle with RNH, Draisaitl and the pick.
 
It is not a deep year on the free agency front for defencemen and goaltenders, so the most likely way that Chiarelli and his staff address weaknesses in those positions is by targeting cap-crunched teams and offering up picks and prospects.
 
Besides the first overall pick, the Oilers have Pittsburgh’s first rounder (likely #16 overall), Two number twos, two number threes and likely a 4th round pick as well.
 
In the short term though I do not see the Oilers moving out a core piece; but there is no question the Oilers need at least one if not two top four defenceman, and a starting goalie.

  • Bob, I thought you said on “Oilers Now” that the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds would win the Memorial Cup, what happened? -- Fickle Fred from Fultonvale       

    The aforementioned brilliance of Connor McDavid, goaltending, and coaching all played a factor in Erie upsetting the Greyhounds in a highly entertaining series.
     
    On February 6th I saw the SSM wallop Erie 6-1 right in Erie and the game wasn’t even close.
    Tampa Bay 1st round pick Anthony DeAngelo was stellar with 1-3-4, completely controlling the pace of the game; and Darnell Nurse pretty much neutralized McDavid. New York Rangers 2nd round pick Brandon Halverson was solid in goal as well.

    Sault Ste. Marie had a line-up that boasted four 1st round picks: Nurse (EDM 1/7/13, Nick Ritchie ANA 1/10/14, DeAngelo TB 1/19/14, Jared McCaan VAN 1/24/14) and the Greyhounds were loaded up front with lots of scoring depth.

    But the Greyhounds didn’t look anything like that team in the final four games of the Erie-SSM series broadcast on Sportsnet.

    McDavid was out of this world. He picked up 8-11-19 in SIX games against the Soo.
    DeAngelo who scored 25 goals during the regular season as a defenceman, clearly was having challenges shooting the puck and he finished the playoffs with zero goals.

    Halverson got out-played by Erie netminder Devin Williams.

    Erie Head Coach Kris Knoblauch, who played at the University of Alberta (’99-’04), has coached teams to upsets before and he did it again.

    During the 2011 WHL Playoffs Knoblauch’s Kootenay Ice stunned talent-laden squads from Saskatoon (Brayden Schenn) and Portland (Ryan Johansen). The Ice were the far more disciplined team in both series, and discipline was a major factor in the Erie-SSM series as well.

    Knoblauch got the buy-in from his players, whereas SSM Head Coach Sheldon Keefe (who is getting a real push from the media in Toronto) saw key players go over the edge at the wrong times. Nick Ritchie spent a lot of time in the box in game 4, and ditto for DeAngelo in Game 6.
    The Greyhounds were the better team five-on-five when McDavid wasn’t on the ice, but the Otters crushed the Soo on the PP. Erie went 10/22 in the series, SSM 5/22.

  • Now that Leon Draisaitl and the Kelowna Rockets have gotten past Portland, how do you see the Kelowna-Brandon series? -- Michael in Edmonton        

    This is a match-up between a team built to win this season (Kelowna) vs. a team built to win for the next three seasons (Brandon).

    The Rockets loaded up acquiring both Josh Morrissey and Draisaitl from Prince Albert in separate deals.

    Kelowna overcame injury issues to rally from a 2-1 series deficit winning the final three games of the series, including two in Portland.

    Sniper Rourke Chartier scored 48 goals during the regular season, but he missed the final two games vs. Portland, and Morrissey (WPG, 1/13/13) wasn’t his dominate self against the WinterHawks either with just three assists in six games.

    Nonetheless the Rockets were expected to be in the WHL Final, especially once the Draisaitl deal was done and Leon was assigned by the Oilers to Kelowna.

    Brandon might be a year ahead of their cycle.

    GM/Head Coach Kelly McCrimmon schooled Lethbridge and Saskatoon in a series of deals and now has an embarrassment of riches.

    Morgan Klimchuk (CGY, 1/28/13) and SSAC-product John Quenville (NJ 1/30-14) are late first-rounders but there are more to come!

    Defenceman Ivan Provorov 15-46-61/60 GP/+36 is a consensus top-10 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft and 6’2”, 214 pound defenceman Ryan Pilon (acquired in a lop-sided deal with Lethbridge) might also go late in the first round after registering 11-41-52/68GP/+36.

    Defenceman Kyle Clague taken sixth overall in the 2013 Bantam Draft (with a pick acquired in a deal with Lethbridge) has struggled through an injury-plagued rookie season but will be a top 50 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, and the Wheat Kings have two centres who will be first round picks in the 2017 NHL Draft.

    Nolan Patrick, a 6’3”, 190 centre, scored 30 goals as a 16 year-old this season and as a late birth-date is not eligible until the 2017 NHL Draft. He could be a top-five pick.

    Stelio Matteos, a 6’1”, 185 center was the number one overall pick in the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft (Brandon had Saskatoon’s number one pick from a previous deal) and the 15 year-old has seen action in nine playoff games so far.

    The Wheat Kings have been the more impressive of the two clubs so far, but I will take Kelowna in six games, with Draisaitl needing to elevate his game.

  • Bob Stauffer is Colour Analyst on the Oilers Radio Network and Hosts “Oilers Now” each day Noon to 2:00 PM Monday thru Friday on 630 CHED and you can follow him on Twitter at @Bob_Stauffer
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